No Higher Honor? Condi takes on Olmert and Obama

Some of what she presents in her new book is hardly news...The Olmert offer had been debated ad-nauseaum in the Media both, in Israel as well as the States; including the famous alleged line of Olmert to Abbas: "This is the deal - take it; you will never get a better one"

The deal offered by Olmert was indeed far reaching, including a re-division of Jerusalem and International sovereignity over the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as a corridor linking the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. So why didn't it work?

Pundits on the right will say that it didn't work because Abbas didn't want a deal because he doesn't want to accommodate with Israel.

Pundits on the left will say that the proposal did not go far enough.

Other will say that "the conditions were not there"

What does Rice say? - it was all Tzipi Livni's fault. According to Condolezza Rice, Tzipi Livni (who was at the time Foreign Minister) told her at the time (and apparently to the Palestinians as well) That Olmert did not have the political clout to pull it off, and to wait until she would replace him as Prime Minister (!!!) Is this plausible?...well, politicians are politicians all over - and yes, it is possible that Livni played some hardball with Olmert in her quest for the Kadimah leadership at a time.

Rice also points out that copies of Olmert's map for a negotiated solution were (and are) at the State Department. She is convinced that if the new Administration would have picked up where she left it, Peace would have been possible. Of course, she goes on to say that Obama made an unforgivable mistake by restarting negotiations and trying to push Netanyahu around.

All this elaborate analysis focuses on the political decision making but ignores the "other" reality. Could a deal with the Palestinians truly be accepted by Israel without a referendum? especially a deal involving the redivision of Jerusalem? Probably no. Could any solution that falls short of giving Palestinians the Right of Return in their terms work? recent declarations by Nabil Shahat and Mahmoud bbas (Abu Mazen) appear to argue against it.

True Democracies are not only about Elections, and Laws, and treaties. They are about people. American Democracy works because people get involved - so does Israeli Democracy. The Palestinian people in the street do not have a real voice with their government. Where are the civic organizations controlling government action? or monitoring Human Rights violations by their own government?. No Democracy can be fully functional without "The People" controlling the ones who rule them. Political participation and activism is essential to Democracy...otherwise, Iraq and Afghanistan would already have democratic governments.

Democracy is also about not only the rule of the Majority but also the respect for the rights of the minorities. In order to ensure those rights, it is important to accept the principle of compromise. In a true democracy nobody gets all that they want, but a balance of rights and obligations allows the system to work. Palestinians proofed, in their recent response to the Quartet, that they are not ready to compromise...not with Israel, and not internally. Without the will to find a common ground, Palestinians can elect their leaders - but elected officials alone do not make a democracy.

The there is "Occupy Wall Street", a leaderless movement is there ever was one. It would be more accurte to describe it as an aglomeration of discontent group deeply affected by the mismanagement of the economy by the elected government of the United States. Their style of protest is copying what they understand as the style of the Arab Spring and the protests in Europe - but there is a great difference. Arab protesters were clear on what they wanted - they might have disagreed on how to get there, but they all wanted the same thing: Freedom. Protesters in Europe are protesting the loss of a sense of entitlement and what they see as government mismanagement. Israelis took to the street to protest the widening of the income gap and the high cost of living. In all these cases, the message was clear. And the message of the Occupy Wall Streeters is...?

The answer is "depending on who you talk to". The movement includes rabid antisemites, rabid racists, alongside convinced liberals. You can see signs reading "End Israeli Occupation", as well as "End corporate greed". Alongside signs calling for "People's power", there are signs accusing Jews of the situation. Nothing new...anti semites raise their ugly head in times of economic crises...It does show, however, that the movement does not have a clear direction. So is "Occupy Wall Street good for Democracy?" And the answer is yes. And the answer is no.

While preserving the constitutional right of Freedom of speech as one of the fundamental democratic guarantees should be a top priority for any freedom loving citizen of this country, the lack of direction difusses the message and allows those who normally choose to ignore the people to continue to ignore them.

Democracy is, most definitely, not an easy game...but it is still the best game in town. On this note, and considering the state of the world today...HAPPY HALLOWEEN


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